Back to Trip Reports 


Title Kenya & Tanzania 1999

Trip Type:  ‘Tourist’ safari booked through a non-specialist safari or photographic company (Kuoni).  The vehicle was shared with other tourists who were not focused on photography.  Internal travel between reserves was by road.

Outline Itinerary:  Nairobi, Samburu NR, Mt Kenya NP, Lake Nakuru NP, Tarangire NP, Serengeti NP, Ngorongoro Crater CA, Oldupai Gorge, Nairobi NP.       2 weeks

When:  September

Equipment:  Nikon F4s, Nikon F601m, Nikkors 50/1.8, 80-200/4, 400/3.5 IFED, TC-14B, PK-13, Sigma 100-500/5.6-8 APO, Manfrotto 055 / 268, Fuji Sensia II 100 & Velvia 50 (usually pushed to 100asa, Nikon A2 filters

Photographic Highs and Lows: 

As per the trip to just Kenya the year before both, Samburu and Lake Nakuru were amazing and productive.  Lake Nakuru was not actually on the itinerary this time, I was stopping near to Lake Elmenteita, the next lake along the rift, and had a whole afternoon ‘at leisure’ before travelling on the next morning.  Joy!   


          Rhino & Calf, Nakuru NP


A group of us paid the guide extra to have a few hours in Nakuru NP. When we arrived in the park, there were no flamingos and the heavens opened, but after a little while we spotted a white rhino and calf off in the distance and so parked up to watch them (and get some distant shots, still very small in the frame even with the 400mm). The rain stopped and we had the most beautiful (for mid afternoon) light.The rhino & calf, grazing as they went, spent the next 30 to 60 minutes slowly meandering towards us, closer and closer, until the point came where our guide said that it was too close and we were not permitted to stay, even though we were parked and had not moved for an hour or so. It was too close to get the whole of the mother in the frame! We left, with some great pictures and fabulous memories. There were other opportunities too, but nothing to match the thrill of the rhino encounter. 



Mt Mt Kenya I stayed in the Mountain Lodge which had a subterranean hide linked to the lodge via a short tunnel, and viewing slots at ground level. It was a great vantage point for elephant, and the next morning whilst everyone else was eating breakfast, waterbuck in golden light (you can always eat when the best light of the day has gone!).

The Ngorongoro Crater (not so much to see in the general conservation area) was magical. Sadly I missed the early morning and evening light which apparently is typical of a ‘tourist safari!!!, but the place was amazing despite the harsh light. Also, the crater walls mean that you virtually always have a background without the horizon cutting through your subjects.  The view from the crater rim was truly breathtaking. I will definitely go back…….watch this space ;-)

Tarangire NP was beautiful, lots of baobab trees and elephants. Other stuff too but I never seemed to get the animals and good light at the same time. Photographically disappointing on this occasion but it has definite potential.

Early morning Waterbuck, Hide @ Mount Kenya Mountain Lodge                                          


                     Tusker, Ngorongoro Crater

The Serengeti was a huge disappointment for the most part. The plains were empty but that, in hindsight, was due to the time of year that I visited, the migration was in the Mara.

Bruce's Hyrax, Seronera Lodge

It is hard to believe but even so few years ago the internet was not widespread and packed with information as it is today, and to find out reliable information about best seasons etc. for visiting specific places was surprisingly difficult. The Seronera region (I stayed in the Seronera Lodge) was quite productive and overall I enjoyed the Serengeti but would not go back at this time of year……plans are afoot :-)

I also stopped off at Oldupai Gorge. Too hot (early afternoon!), too ‘touristy’, no decent photo opportunities, and showed little potential. A very thought provoking place all the same but I would not rush to go back.


Hippo, Seronera Area

The biggest photographic surprise of the trip was Nairobi NP.  Again not included in the standard itinerary but as I had a ‘rest day’ to kill as a buffer for the flight home I organized a private outing to the NP to pass a few hours.  My expectations were low but well exceeded.  It never fails to amaze me how many seasoned safari goers (including photographers) I speak to who have been to Kenya far more times than I have but have never been to Nairobi NP.  It has everything except elephant and you have a good chance of seeing (and photographing) black rhino.  Not even the Mara can claim that!  My advice would be to fly into Nairobi (Jomo Kenyatta Intl.), transfer directly to Wilson Airport (also in Nairobi but for ‘small’ internal flights, about 30-40 minutes away by car) and fly back out again asap.  However, if circumstances dictate a ‘rest day’ or other reasons to be in Nairobi you could do far worse than get a taxi and visit the National Park, and it is not expensive even at tourist rates.  But do try to avoid weekends.  There are other options such as Giraffe House and an elephant sanctuary, but I have not tried those.

Other Comments: 

Again too much travelling time on the road compared to productive time in the parks.  That said travelling by road does give you a view of the country which is totally missed when flying into the reserves.  It also gives many opportunities for souvenir shopping if that is your thing.  You must barter unless you want to totally pay over the odds, it is both expected and great fun.  There is also the opportunity to stop off a lesser tourist spots (Thomson falls for example) etc., but if you are concentrating on serious photography time in the reserves I would suggest keeping road travel to a minimum.

Rhino after a Rain Shower, Nakuru NP


  Back to Trip Reports or General Ramblings